BIA capacity expansion to kick-off by year end

By Charumini de Silva
01-01The next phase of development of the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) will commenginald Cooray said yesterday. Speaking at the APOT.Asia Forum, he said the intention of the Government was to develop BIA as a truly modern and efficient aviation passenger and cargo hub serving not limiting to South Asian region but the wider Asia Pacific region as well.

“Being an island nation, we are heavily dependent on our air transport sector, which has a vital role to play in the economic development of the country. The Government of Sri Lanka has therefore has great emphasis on the air transport sector together with the tourism sector to boost our hospitality industry and ultimately the economy,” he added. Sri Lanka witnessed a significant improvement in the tourist influx during the past few years.

“We anticipate the current growth trend in leisure and business travellers to Sri Lanka will continue. Thereby, we are in the process of setting up necessary infrastructure to cater to this growth,” he said. “In all of this we recognise that efficient air links which provides pleasant travel experience is also vital to sustain and further develop business and economic ties with our regional partners. And that is where APOT.Asia is a significant value addition,” the Minister said.

“It is common knowledge that Asia Pacific region is home to several airlines which maintain high standards of onboard services. Our own national carrier, SriLankan Airlines, is renowned for its excellent onboard services,” he added. The Bandaranaike International Airport will be expanded to handle 15 million passengers by 2020 under a $ 370 million project funded by the Japanese Government. The expansion was given Cabinet approval last week. The expansion is expected to boost Sri Lanka’s lucrative tourism industry that has seen impressive growth since the end of a three decade conflict in 2009.

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